Tasting day

It’s been a while since we last checked in. You will have to excuse us for that. We had several major events take place since the last entry, which have left us feeling pretty exhausted. This weekend is the first time we have been able to relax and catch our breath. The last 7 weeks have included hospitalisation (of me), wedding and honeymoon (of us) and then a funeral (of the grandfather). And on top of all that, I foolishly lost my camera two days before our wedding out at the Churchill Arms in Kensington. It included all of the photos and videos we made while we were picking and pressing our apples. For some reason I hadn’t felt the need to upload them to my computer. I have been sad thinking about all the memories which aren’t documented. So what you see from those picking and pressing days are the few photos we took with our camera phones. It’s too bad we lost those photos (amongst several hundred others), but life goes on and new cameras can be purchased.

So at last entry we were headed out the door to pick apples with our friend Laura. It started as a quite good day with lunch in Tonbridge and a trip to the local liquor store to pick up some Kentish ciders for when we got home and celebrated our first successful day of picking. Unfortunately the day ended up with me being rushed to hospital with what would eventually be identified as a kidney infection. I spent a couple days in hospital, but it didn’t stop the pressing. We probably had picked about 200kg before I got sick and James went back to pick another 250kg (maybe more) of apples to bring back. He courageously hauled and loaded up 14 very heavy bags while Laura and us hung out in Pembury Hospital. James pressed some of the lot on Sunday and then the other bit Tuesday night, which I was home to see.

The hydropress really did a fantastic job pressing (wish I could share video) at a good rate. The first day James pressed about 100 litres the first day. The 2nd day he did about 150 litres in a couple hours.

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Scratting apples in the kitchen. A very wet and messy process.
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Fresh pressed Worcester juice
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Filling the tanks.

In total we made just over 240 litres of cider as follows:
25 September
60l – 100% Cox apples (nothing added)
301 – 100% Cox apples with 7g high quality cider yeast (from vigo press)
27 September
30l – 100% Worcester apples (nothing added)
60l – ~90% Cox apples & ~10% Worcester apples with 14g high quality cider yeast
60l – 100% Cox apples with 30 campden tablets
1 gallon – 100% Cox apples with 2 campden tablets and 1g yeast

The hydrometer said the Cox juice should produce 7.4% cider. We didn’t get a measurement for the Worcester juice, so that’s just going to be a guess for percentage.

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Dad and son using their terrible eye sight to read the hydrometer.

Thursday and today we tried all the ciders to see how far along they were. They were what we kind of expected. The ones with added yeast were way further on than the ones without yeast. In fact the 30l of just Cox ended up being finished. And yep, it ended up tasting like it should: a dry Kentish cider.  We thought it may take longer for the ciders to ferment, but I think they benefited from a fairly warm Autumn up until recently. Our other cider readings ranged from 1.010 (for the 1 gallon container we’ve kept in the kitchen) to 1.040 for the 100% with 30 campden tablets. Prior to the testing, there were concerns the ones without any yeast added hadn’t gotten going, but happily all those fears have been put to rest. They are all bubbling along, just very slowly now since the temperature has dipped. We may sweeten up some of the Cox cider that’s done fermenting with the not-quite-done Cox. We did a little sample mix and it was pretty delicious. The other containers were still pretty tart and sweet, especially the Worcester.

We taste tested the finished one against another Kentish cider and a Basque cider and we thought it held up pretty well against both. Considering it was our first go at making cider, we are very pleased. Best of all we will have some cider to share with our friends at our annual Christmas party in a few weeks. Hopefully they will enjoy it. If not, more for us!

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In other news we had some very nice mass produced South African and Mauritius ciders while on our honeymoon in Seychelles. We had Hunter’s (SA), Phoenix (MA), and of course Savanna Dry (SA). Hunter’s had two varieties that we could find: Dry and Gold. Dry was our favourite. The Phoenix one had the jolly rancher taste to it. Savanna Dry tasted pretty good too. All were superior to the beer, which had sugar added to it. No bueno. We found it highly amusing the cider selection at most corner shops on a small island in the middle of the Indian ocean had a better selection of cider than most pubs in Britain do.

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Hunter’s Dry: drink of Honeymoon champions

This week we have booked a 9 day trip to Austria for May. We are going to Vienna for a few days, but really we are going to explore Mostviertal which is the Perry producing region of Austria. From my limited knowledge of German and the 2 English websites we can find about it, it looks great. We will be touring on bicycles as there is a bicycle path through the region. We can’t wait. More details about that to come.

Well, we will look to update again soon to let you know how the racking and bottling process goes. Cheers – Colleen

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